Schedule 30 Minutes to Uncover the Keys to More Powerful Content

"Keyword research doesn’t have to be a marathon. A brisk, 30-minute walk can provide incredibly useful insights." – Britney Muller

I understand why content marketers may avoid SEO: it seems complicated and time-consuming.

But I’ve got good news. Today, you’ll learn why content marketers like you are well-positioned to use SEO tactics — possibly even more so than *cough* an SEO like me.

Keyword research doesn’t have to be a marathon. A brisk, 30-minute walk can provide incredibly useful insights.

Even though keyword research benefits may not be obvious, the work you perform will help connect you to a wider audience on a deeper level.

Discovering how many people (a month) search for something, the words they use, and the questions they ask are important keys to more powerful content.

Why keyword research is essential

My previous company, Pryde Marketing, leveraged online data strategically for private medical practices.

When we were hired to do keyword research for an MRI company, we discovered that hundreds of people a month were searching “open vs. closed mri” but no sites provided any good answers, content, or photos for these searchers.

We decided to create a “Open vs. Closed MRI” page for our client that continues to see more than double the traffic of the homepage. And, it has brought in more than 50,000 unique visitors.

We were not successful because we thought of this content idea.

We were successful because we paid attention to the keyword data.

4 keyword research hacks

As Jerod Morris explained yesterday, there are keyword research tools built right in to the Rainmaker Platform and StudioPress Sites that you can use as you write and edit.

I’m going to show you some other tools as we go through the process of keyword research with an example client.

Example client: Hunter & Company (wedding & event planning)

Objective: Write better content for their website to improve digital marketing efforts.

Each of the four hacks below will take you 30 minutes or less to complete.

Hack #1: Blog category keyword research

Having five to 10 data-driven blog categories can help you organize your blog, rank for popular topics, and make it easier for readers to find more relevant content.

Evaluate top industry websites (8 minutes)

First, identify the most common navigation items and blog categories on leading industry sites.

Here’s a screenshot from The Knot:

Advanced search operators (3 minutes)

While exploring top websites, you can use advanced Google operators to dig deeper.

For example, has topic pages such as “wedding beauty.” To view all of’s topics, type “” into Google:

Google suggestions (7 minutes)

Now, Google “wedding” — and don’t hit enter!

Instead, make a note of the drop-down search suggestions. To get the most popular and/or trending wedding related searches, you can also search “wedding a” (don’t hit enter), “wedding b” (don’t hit enter) … all the way to “wedding z.”

Once you’ve aggregated keywords by using the tactics above, you’ll have a solid list:

wedding venues, wedding photographers, wedding dj, wedding beauty, wedding videographers, wedding bands, wedding budget, wedding invitations, wedding registry, wedding colors, wedding decorations, wedding party, wedding ideas, wedding cakes, wedding centerpieces, wedding hairstyles, wedding bouquets, engagement rings, wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride dresses, wedding rings, flower girl dresses, wedding accessories, wedding jewelry, wedding tuxedos, wedding registry, wedding ceremony, wedding reception, wedding cake, wedding food, wedding favors, wedding flowers

Let’s determine which categories are most popular by average monthly Google searches.

In Google Keyword Planner or Moz Keyword Explorer, you can view average monthly search volume (how many times a query like “wedding flowers” is searched for a month).

Google Keyword Planner (5 minutes):

Step 1: In Google Keyword Planner, paste your saved keyword list into “Enter one or more of the following” and click “Get Ideas.”

Step 2: Evaluate and save search volume data while being mindful of the large search data ranges and limited data.

Note: Google will occasionally change your keywords to something different; “wedding videographers” was changed to “wedding videos” in this case. It’s important to make a note of those changes when you decide on the exact category names.

You should also explore the keywords below your immediate keyword search section. Sort by “Avg. monthly searches” (highest to lowest) to make sure you aren’t missing any other big categories.

Moz Keyword Explorer (7 minutes):

Step 1: In Moz Keyword Explorer, create a new list.

Step 2: Paste your keyword list into the “Enter Keywords” box.

Step 3: Have a quick water break, because Moz Keyword Explorer will take a minute to gather data. Once the data is ready, sort by and evaluate average monthly search volume.

To set our blog categories, we need to finalize:

  • Which topics are the most popular?
  • Which topics are the most relevant for a wedding planner site?

With those questions in mind, I’ve chosen six of the most popular wedding topics, and there are several sub-categories within “Wedding Decorations.”

  1. Wedding Dresses
  2. Wedding Invitations
  3. Wedding Photography
  4. Wedding Cakes
  5. Wedding Venues
  6. Wedding Decorations (Wedding Flowers, Wedding Colors, Wedding Centerpieces, Wedding Venues)

Hack #2: FAQ keyword research

Answering the questions that are most commonly searched about your product or service will provide value to your readers and solidify you as an authority in your niche.

Here’s how to gather the most commonly asked questions on a topic.

Use (10 minutes)

Search for your product or service on AnswerThePublic.

While the visuals in the snazzy question wheel above are fun, it’s easier to review the questions by clicking the top right, yellow “export to csv” button and deleting the extra questions you don’t need.

Moz Keyword Explorer (10 minutes)

Step 1: Search and filter “display keyword suggestions” by “are questions.”

Step 2: Add relevant questions to a new keyword list.

Step 3: Add relevant AnswerThePublic questions to the list.

Your research is done!

I wouldn’t worry about evaluating search volume too closely for FAQs because questions are typically more long tail (they have a lower search volume and are usually easier to rank for). Which, in multitudes, can be very valuable to your site.

Now you can start adding your newly discovered FAQs to an FAQ page. (Try to avoid very similar types of questions.)

Hack #3: Competitive content research

Ready to glean insights from your competitor?

Evaluate your competitor’s 10 most popular pages on SimilarWeb (5 minutes)

SimilarWeb allows you to uncover the specific type of content your audience finds on a competitor’s website.

Here are the 10 most popular pages on

Evaluate each of the top pages and gather three takeaways (20 minutes)

What should Hunter & Company observe?

  1. Images. The most popular “Gallery” page confirms that images are extremely popular in the wedding and event space. Maintaining an optimized gallery and incorporating more images into content should be a top priority.
  2. Category pages. Notice that the “Preferred Vendors” page is a Category page. It’s something Hunter & Company should consider adding to their site as well.
  3. Testimonials. Hunter & Company can collect testimonials to display.

Pro Tip: Use Google Trends to evaluate seasonal searches and prepare competitive content months before it spikes.

Hack #4: Keep up with “no click” Google searches

We are seeing a big rise in “no click” Google searches.

Here are charts from The State of Searcher Behavior Revealed Through 23 Remarkable Statistics:

“No click” searches occur when individuals search for something — and find their answer — without ever clicking on a search result.

For example, if you search for “Denver weather,” Google will show you an eight-day weather forecast. Most searchers are satisfied with that and leave, resulting in a “no click” Google search.

“No click” searches are rising because Google continues to provide answers within Search Features like: Featured Snippets (answer boxes), “People Also Ask” Boxes, Knowledge Graphs, Weather Forecasts, etc.

Know which Search Features show up most often for your keywords (5 minutes)

Knowing which Search Features occur most frequently for searches related to your product or service can help you optimize for them.

Keep in mind that if you are page one or two of a desired Featured Snippet search, you are in a better position to get that Featured Snippet (than if you are on page three or further down in search results).

Remember our FAQs about “wedding planning” above? The majority of questions found in Moz Keyword Explorer have Featured Snippets (answer boxes) in their search results: currently has a large Featured Snippet for the keyword term “wedding checklist.”

Brainstorm a better wedding checklist (15 minutes)

How could Hunter & Company create a more useful checklist? They could:

  • Hire a freelance developer to create a printable wedding checklist calendar that, once a reader enters their wedding date, populates with scheduled to-do list items
  • Create an IFTTT (If This Then That) recipe to schedule Google Calendar To-Do Reminders based on the user’s wedding date
  • Provide a more beautiful, detailed, user-friendly wedding checklist for their site

Over to you …

Which keyword research method are you most looking forward to trying?

After you’ve performed one of the hacks above, report back and let us know about any interesting discoveries you’ve made.

Image source: Tristan Colangelo via Unsplash.

The post Schedule 30 Minutes to Uncover the Keys to More Powerful Content appeared first on Copyblogger.

Source: New feed 3

A proven method for building a strong PPC account team

What’s the ideal structure for a team managing a PPC account? Columnist Jeff Baum shares the benefits and potential pitfalls of his agency’s “team of teams” approach to account management.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Source: New feed

How Quartile-Based Pricing Doubled This SaaS Company’s Monthly Recurring Revenue Growth

Broadly speaking, you can grow your SaaS three ways: acquire more customers, retain more customers or charge more per customer. At Planio, we focused heavily on acquiring new customers via content marketing and retaining those customers via investing in product development and customer success.

And it worked. In January 2015 our monthly customer account churn rate averaged 2.49% and in January 2017 averaged 2.1%, a 20% reduction. While a lower churn rate is always better, it wasn’t clear that we could get any more big wins by reducing churn. Acquisition was steadily growing as our content efforts started paying off. The last lever—pricing—was one we hadn’t touched in seven years since Planio started, so it made sense to us that it might be the lowest hanging fruit.

Below, I’ll bring you through the process we took in analyzing data on our customer behavior. We’ll go into how we chose our new pricing model, and we’ll show you the exact impact on our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) growth with real figures.

The Importance of Pricing for SaaS Products

Particularly if you are a bootstrapped startup without VC funding, pricing will determine how much you can afford to spend on product development, customer success and product marketing. Wondering whether you can afford to build out an inside sales team for your SaaS? Jason Lemkin says you need to charge at least $299/mo as a rough rule of thumb.

Price Intelligently point out the paradox that, despite its importance, SaaS startups spend very little time at all on their pricing – they cite 6 hours. They also comment that “your pricing is the exchange rate on the value you’re creating in the world.”

This number of 6 hours made us think that we should dig into our pricing. We spent probably even less back then when we first started by simply copying the prices of a few similar tools back then.

Sources of Data on Our Pricing

When you have lots of competition, it’s easy to get trapped into analyzing what the others are doing. The reason this can be a mistake is that competitors’ approaches might not be a good fit for you. For example, their sales and marketing model might be very different to yours and this is reflected in their pricing. Once you reached a certain stage in your growth, you can also analyze how your own customers are using your product.

In Planio’s case, we have about 1,500 paying customers. That gave us a lot of data on how our customers were using our plans. We started analyzing the distributions across the various criteria that make up the plans: number of users, number of projects and storage space. Box plots are a handy way to get a quick sense of the distribution of the number of users each account is using:


The box plot above can give you a quick sense of how many users our customers typically had.

You can see that the median is at 9 users, whereas the highest amount (excluding outliers) is at about 48 users. At the same time, our pricing plans at the time ranged from 6 users at the bottom end to 100 users at the top end.


When we compared the box plot above to our pricing plans, there was a clear disconnect:

  • 75% of our customers has 30 users or less, so they fit within the bottom two plans;
  • 40% of our customers had less than 6 users, so they fit within our bottom 9 euro/month plan.

The result of this disconnect was that a customer with a team of 7 was paying the same as a customer with a team of 30. At the same time, we had almost no customers with more than 48 users.

Our conclusion was that our pricing scale was not calibrated to our customers’ behavior. It was time to make some changes.

Paralysis by Analysis

At the time Planio’s founder, Jan, and I were staring at endless Excel sheets. A big question in our mind was whether we should increase the price on all our customers at once, or whether we should grandfather older customers and just have the new pricing model for newer customers.

Obviously, giving all customers an ultimatum of “pay an increased price or leave” might result in a lot of customers leaving – maybe even angrily. I recommend this approach anyways if you want to see exactly who values your product by sticking with it at the higher price. I think this approach might work if you have a limited amount of time to find product/market fit before you run out of funding runway. The reason is that your current customer base will just be a tiny fraction of your future customer base if your startup is successful.

But we’re bootstrapped, so there wasn’t an intense pressure for future rounds of funding. It also didn’t feel fair on our customers to give them this ultimatum. Then, we stumbled on a very simple solution that seemed the most fair to us.

The Quartile-Based Approach We Took

Going back to the quartiles from the box plot, we noticed that we could segment our customer base into four quarters taking the 25th, 50th and 75th quartiles as the boundaries between the plans.

quartile-based-plansThis shows how our new pricing plans line up with the four quarters.

We then created four quarters based on these points in the data, which would become the new plans. We also increased the pricing of our lowest plan on the basis that charging any business about 9 dollars a month for software core to their business is ranking it lower in value than the air freshener they use in the bathroom.

De-Risking the Pricing Experiment

Honestly, I found it stressful to change our pricing model. You’re tweaking with the revenue engine of an entire business. If things go wrong, the impact can be quite serious.

In our case, we reduced the risk of this pricing experiment by grandfathering existing customers, meaning that they could keep their existing plan. That meant that if the new pricing model turned out to be a fiasco, we could just roll-back a small number of new customers to the old model.

At the same time, we obviously limited our upside: if all our existing customers moved over to our new pricing model without a significant amount of cancellations, we’d stand to increase our monthly recurring revenue overnight by a significant amount.

I think if your SaaS has only been around for a couple of months, you can afford to be more aggressive with testing out new pricing models without grandfathering existing customers. Whether people stay with the new model or not is important data as you grow. In our case, we felt that we didn’t need or have to take that risk, because Planio is a bootstrapped company with 7 years of happy customers and we actually value growing slowly and steadily.

The second way we reduced the risk was to add more value to our existing plans. Previously, we had charged extra for our Team Chat and Customer Helpdesk features. We felt that these features added significant value, but customers were hesitant to pay extra for them, so we rolled them into the standard plans.

With these changes made, we deployed the new pricing changes on February 1, 2016:

planio-pricing-page-2We changed the amount of users for each plan according to the quarters shown in the chart above.

The Results of the Pricing Experiment

After we switched over to the new pricing model, we waited for the emails and phone calls to roll in. I imagined hordes of discontented customers pounding down our doors.

But what really happened?


Just for the sake of comparison, we once changed the colors in Planio for default avatars to a selection of pastels, including a range of pink. That change unleashed two phone calls within an hour from (male) CEO’s fearful of suffering the stigma of a pink Avatar.

The impact of the change in pricing on our growth was, however, immediate.

An important metric for us is the average monthly recurring revenue we get per new customer. It tells us that in a certain month, a new customer bought a subscription worth, say 30 euro, on average.

As you can see below, the introduction of the new pricing model significantly increased the average monthly recurring revenue per new customer. Whereas the average MRR per new customer was €24.71 over the previous five years, it went up by over 100% to an average of €50.68 for the 12 month period after the pricing change.


Did this increase our churn rate?

Well in Planio’s case, churn went from 2.49% in January 2015 before the pricing change to an average of 2.1% as of January 2017.

There were some issues for customers who’d considered Planio before the pricing changes but then only signed up after February 1, 2016. We resolved those complaints by just giving them the old plans.

Analyze Your Pricing and Test New Approaches

Our new pricing model at Planio means that we are better at segmenting our customer value based on our customer needs. A small dev shop with 7 people is no longer paying the same as a division of a multinational with 30 people.

Once you’ve reached a certain level of customers, you can start using tools such as Kissmetrics to see whether your pricing segments are matching your customers and how they use your product. The impact on your growth rate will be significant for the business.

It’s also an ongoing process. In our case, we’ve evolved our pricing pricing several times since the experiment above. For instance, we now accept US dollars and Japanese Yen in addition to Euro, so time will tell how those experiments plays out.

In terms of leverage, a few hours a month spent on analyzing and reviewing your pricing may have outsized results.

About the Author: Thomas Carney works on growth at Planio, a task tracking tool for keeping product development and customer support in sync. You can read about productivity, getting more done, and work hacks over at the Planio blog.

Source: New feed 2

Three foolproof steps to excellent AdWords ads

With billions of paid search ads delivered each day, it’s imperative to create appealing ad creative customized for the user and context. Luckily, AdWords is designed for just this purpose. Columnist and Googler Matt Lawson explains the simple steps to search creative excellence.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Source: New feed

7 Easy-to-Forget SEO Steps You Need to Consider Every Time You Publish

"Remember these elements to help more of the right people find your content." – Jerod Morris

“But I don’t really think about SEO very much anymore.”

That was my initial reaction when we all agreed that March would be SEO month here at Copyblogger. At which point, of course, I knew I’d have to write about it.

“Look, I just create useful content for people. Do that, get it read, get it shared, get links, have good hosting and fast page-load times … and productive search engine results will follow, right? I mean, what else is there to say?”

Turns out, plenty.

Keyword research is more fundamental to your content marketing strategy than you may think. Also, you may already be making fatal optimization mistakes. Plus, who knew SEO advice could be so … practical? (Including #8, which will punch you square between the eyes.)

I read those articles, rethought my position, and decided to examine exactly how much I actually think about SEO on a post-by-post basis.

And, turns out, plenty. (Whether or not I realized it.)

It’s easy to forget about the basic steps I’m going to outline below, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. Because the minute I stop doing them is the minute my content starts attracting fewer targeted visitors. Same goes for you.

So let’s start at the top, because the first one is by far the most important of the seven — and it will take me the longest to explain.

(Note: I’m going to use my site as an example throughout this post. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which has all of the tools I’m about to mention built right in. And thank goodness, or I’d probably forget about them. StudioPress Sites has all of these tools built in, too.)

1. Be extra intentional about your SEO title tag

You don’t have to set an SEO title tag for each post. If nothing is defined in your post’s meta data, search engines will simply pull your on-page headline.

And if you’ve done your headline homework and know how to write good ones, chances are your headline can double as your SEO title without massive negative repercussions.

But is it ideal? That’s the question. (It’s not.) And if it’s not, why wouldn’t you take an extra minute to be more intentional with your SEO title?

Let me give you an example …

Here’s a recent post from Backstory: our resident expert bracketologist posted his final projections for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 1.41.43 PM

The headline follows the same simple and straightforward pattern that you see on all of our bracketology posts.

But here is the SEO title, set from the post edit screen inside of Rainmaker:

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 1.44.06 PM

You can’t see the full title, but here it is:

March Madness: Final Bracket Projections for 2017 NCAA Tournament by @AndyBottoms.

So why the differences?

First, because “March Madness” is an oft-searched term by basketball fans seeking this information — which I know from having done my keyword research. But the headline “March Madness: Final 2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket Projections” would look goofy and cluttered at the top of the page, especially on mobile.

Adding it to the SEO title allows me to get it into the search result, where it will have the most impact.

Second, I know that the first five to six words in an SEO title are the most important real estate. After that, people may not see the rest because it can get truncated in search results (as you can see in the screenshot).

So I rearranged the on-page headline to get “Final Bracket Projections” in before “2017 NCAA Tournament.” Why? Because the latter phrase is somewhat redundant with “March Madness.” But it’s essential that searchers know what, specifically, this post will tell them about March Madness, otherwise they won’t click.

This arrangement of the words balances the more generally searched terms with the essential specifics about the content — which is the part that actually drives clicks.

Third, notice the Twitter handle (@AndyBottoms) there at the end. Did you know that when people click the share button to tweet your post, Twitter usually pulls the SEO title, not the on-page headline? It’s true.

Since Andy is a known entity among college basketball fans for his bracketology prowess, I included his Twitter handle to add authority to the link when it’s included in the tweet text. Plus, he’ll be alerted when someone shares it and can retweet the share or reach out to that person.

Three small, subtle differences. All important. And each opportunity would have been wasted if I’d just been happy with the on-page headline and not considered the SEO title.

And here’s the fun part:

It took me way longer to type this, and for you to read this, than it did for me to edit the headline for the SEO title. I’ve been at this for a while, so it’s second nature at this point. So much so that I sometimes take it for granted.

If you haven’t developed this habit yet, take it seriously. Start doing it. And once it’s a habit, you’ll be creating usefully distinct SEO titles in less time than it takes you to floss.

2. While you’re at it, be strategic with your meta description too

You might as well take a minute to define your meta description. Typically, this is what shows along with your SEO title in search engine results.

Sure, search engines sometimes take liberties and pull their own excerpt from inside of your post for the meta description — usually when the search result is generated by a keyword that is not in the meta description but appears elsewhere in your content.

But we can’t worry about that. We’re worrying about the results we can control.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 3.42.34 PM

See how I used the phrase “NCAA Tournament bracket projections” in the screenshot above? I did this to ensure that the “NCAA Tournament” part was visible in the search engine result, since the addition of “March Madness” to the SEO title had pushed “NCAA Tournament” toward the cutoff point. (Remember from my first example?)

I also wanted to include the phrase “field of 68,” which is a tertiary phrase that might draw some search interest.

The meta description is important because it’s your second chance to include important keywords that might not make it into your title tag.

In hindsight, I probably could have been even more strategic with keywords in this description. I had more real estate available. But I was also trying to balance my tone and connecting with the audience — because, remember, the meta description often auto-populates when someone shares your post on Facebook.

This was a good opportunity to display some gratitude to the loyal audience members who had kept up with Andy’s daily updates throughout the previous week.

And don’t forget: optimizing for humans is optimizing for search engines. 😉

3. Decide if your post will need a 301 redirect in the future

What if you write a post that has a short shelf life and you want it to be available in search engines during that short time frame when it’s relevant?

Cool. Write it. Publish it. (Add a good SEO Title!) Enjoy the traffic and attention.

But what do you do when the short shelf life ends? Add a 301 redirect.

Below is an example of a limited-time offer we presented a few weeks ago. Focus on the last bullet point.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 2.47.38 PM

Notice the part about the offer expiring on March 5? Okay … so what happens if someone visits this post after March 5? The offer is no longer valid, but the search result will still live on in Google and elsewhere.

Which is fine. I’ll take the traffic. I just want visitors to end up somewhere they can take action.

So I have two options:

  1. I can update the post with a more timeless call to action (a reasonable choice).
  2. I can simply redirect the post to another page on the site.

In this case, I took the latter option because I wanted to send people to the main page for our Deal of the Week posts, which has a timeless call to action (you can see it here).

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 2.56.28 PM

Yes, sometimes optimizing search results is about going back to old posts and ensuring a visitor gets something useful when they click.

(By the way, you’ll notice we do the same thing here at Copyblogger with posts that have expired offers.)

Or perhaps, you don’t want some posts indexed by search engines at all …

4. See if you should add a “noindex” tag

And that’s when a noindex tag comes in handy.

Say that I had wanted the post referenced above to never appear in search engines at all, but just on the site. I could have added a noindex tag to it using the same SEO tool I used to add the 301 redirect.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 2.58.07 PM

When is it a smart time to add a noindex tag?

  • Maybe you have a special offer that is only for people already in your audience, but not for newcomers or window shoppers.
  • Maybe you want to make a special announcement to your existing readers, and you even want to post about it on social media, but it wouldn’t have any relevance for a new search engine visitor.
  • Maybe you’re trying out a new post format and you want some feedback, so you publish the post, knowing that only your die-hard audience members (daily visitors) will see it. You don’t want this indexed.

I could go on.

The point is: Optimizing for search engines also includes determining what posts you don’t want indexed. The noindex tag gives you some choice in the matter.

(Important note: The noindex tag is not perfect. Sometimes search engines index the page anyway. So just be careful.)

5. Use the Canonical URL to let search engines know which page to index

For each episode of The Digital Entrepreneur, we post the podcast in two places:

  1. Once on (here)
  2. Once on (here)


Because is the network site, which hosts the RSS feeds that podcast aggregators like iTunes use. So we have to publish it there.

But we’d rather visitors go to, because once on that site they are more likely to start a free membership, which could lead to a paid membership, which hopefully then leads people to the Rainmaker Platform.

Do you see the issue? Two posts, with very similar content. How do search engines know where to point people?

We tell them — using the Canonical URL field in the SEO settings.

Since we want people to end up at the episode page on, we use that link when we edit the Canonical URL field on the post.

Like this:

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 3.31.32 PM

So, in theory, and hopefully in practice, the page is the only one that shows up in search engine results when someone types in a relevant keyword for that content.

This tip is important to keep in mind not just when you operate multiple websites, but also when you syndicate your content on other websites.

Say you syndicate a post on LinkedIn, Medium, or as a guest post on someone else’s site — make sure you point the Canonical URL tag back to the original post on your site.

6. Commit to doing regular keyword research to confirm your hypotheses

We all have hypotheses about the language our audiences use and the terms they search for. Some of us are better informed than others, depending on the quality of the reading and listening we do.

But all of us could benefit from regularly stepping back, rolling up our sleeves, and doing good ol’ keyword research.

As Brian said:

“Let me be frank … it’s simply negligent to not use keyword research to understand the language of your audience so that you can reflect it back to them.”

You’ll greatly benefit from having a tool like this right there at your fingertips while you’re writing and editing posts:

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 9.04.31 PM

Hitting “Research” provides me with an analysis of the provided keyword phrase, as well as alternate suggestions and their relative popularity and competition level. I can also see useful Google Trends information.

How might this be helpful? Well, for example, “SEO tips” might be provided as an alternative. If it has a higher popularity but a lower competition level, I might consider reworking my headline.

Or I might look at the alternatives and realize my hypothesis was right.

Either way, I’m more informed about the phrases people are actually using, which helps me create more useful content.

Also, as an aside, it helps to have a content optimizer:

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 8.58.05 PM

I’d say that page is optimized.

Full disclosure: I stacked the deck in my favor for the screenshot above by analyzing this post about content marketing from Copyblogger. I mean, how could that post not score 100, right? 😉

The keyword research and content optimizer tools are built into the Rainmaker Platform and StudioPress Sites. I don’t use them on every post, but I do use them regularly to check myself and make sure the post I’m working on and my site as a whole are presenting themselves accurately to search engines.

And now, tip number seven …

7. Pay attention to your post’s reading-difficulty level

Remember our most important premise when it comes to SEO: optimizing for people is optimizing for search engines.

A big part of optimizing for people is using language that can be easily understood. How sophisticated that language should be depends on the audience and context.

For example, the reading level for a website about fantasy football probably shouldn’t be the same as, say, The New Yorker. Audience expectations are very different.

But how do you know the reading level of your post? I check it using the content optimizer tool I showed you above.

The reading-difficulty level for this post is “Standard.”

I checked the reading-difficulty level for one of our bracketology posts at It was “Very Difficult.” I’m fairly certain we don’t need an article about bracket predictions to be more sophisticated than a post about SEO. That was a useful check.

How does this relate to SEO? Well, one of the factors that has been given increasing importance in search engines over the last few years is the level of activity people actually have with your content.

If people click your link, start reading, and then find they are not connecting with your material because you’re using big words and talking over them, what are they likely to do? Click the Back button and find another post. Search engines will take note of that.

Ensuring that your content is at a reading level appropriate for your audience will give you a greater likelihood of connecting, keeping visitors engaged, and improving your stature with search engines.

Which, after all, is the ultimate goal — and in that order.

You don’t improve your stature with search engines and then keep visitors engaged and connect better.

You connect and engage first, watch your search rankings improve, and then make smart, subtle tweaks like the ones I described above to make your search results even more effective.

What other SEO steps do you habitually take with all or most of your posts? Let us know in the comments below.

The post 7 Easy-to-Forget SEO Steps You Need to Consider Every Time You Publish appeared first on Copyblogger.

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How to Use Network Data to Turn Bad Inputs into Gold

If you think network data means gathering business cards at lunch, you’re in for a surprise. Today’s network data comes from data owners sharing their information to give everyone access to better data than any brand can assemble on its own. Join data experts David M. Raab and John Hurley as they…

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Source: New feed